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Americans Lean Against Letting More Haitians Into U.S.

Americans Lean Against Letting More Haitians Into U.S.

by Lymari Morales

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- With the situation in Haiti still dire after the Jan. 12 earthquake, and with a growing number of Haitians reportedly seeking entry into the U.S., a new USA Today/Gallup poll finds that the majority of Americans do not think the U.S. should increase the number of Haitian immigrants it accepts. There is a political divide, with 57% of Democrats in favor, and most independents (57%) and Republicans (67%) opposed.

In Response to the Earthquake, Do You Think the United States Should or Should Not Increase the Number of Immigrants From Haiti Allowed Into the U.S.?

"The large majority of Americans (73%) think the U.S. is doing enough to help the victims.."

The results from the Jan. 23-24, 2010, survey come amid reports that immigration advocates and some members of Congress are urging the Obama administration to relax some of the restrictions on Haitian immigration. According to The Washington Post, discussions center on Haitians with relatives already legally in the U.S. and on injured children who are at risk of death without better medical care. The question used in this survey did not specify these types of special conditions; rather, it asked generally about increasing "the number of immigrants from Haiti allowed into the U.S."

Americans strongly support continued U.S. government assistance in Haiti, with 63% saying the U.S. should keep troops and government workers in the country as long as it takes to ensure basic services are restored and life is more or less back to normal for the Haitian people. Here, political adversaries agree, with majorities of Democrats (69%), independents (63%), and Republicans (56%) in favor.

How Long Do You Think the U.S. Should Keep a Large Number of Troops and Other Government Workers in Haiti?

Americans are for the most part satisfied with U.S. efforts to help in Haiti. The large majority (73%) think the U.S. is doing enough to help the victims. Two in 10 (19%) say it should be doing more, while 3% volunteer that it is doing too much. The question does not distinguish between public- and private-sector work.

Do You Think the United States Is Doing Enough to Help the Victims of the Earthquake in Haiti, or Should It Be Doing More?

Americans, according to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, have -- as of Monday -- donated more than $438 million to help with rescue, relief, and recovery efforts in Haiti. The majority of Americans, regardless of whether they have donated money to Haiti, say they worry that their money will not get to the victims fast enough or that it will not be used to directly assist the victims.

Are You Worried or Not Worried That Any Money You Donate to Haiti Earthquake Victims Will Not Get to Them Fast Enough, or Will Not Be Used to Directly Assist the Victims?

Bottom Line

Americans for the most part see the U.S. doing enough to help earthquake victims in Haiti, and nearly two-thirds support keeping U.S. troops and government personnel in the country until life is more or less back to normal. But Americans stop short of supporting increased immigration to the U.S. from Haiti as a means of assisting the earthquake victims. While the Gallup question does not ask about certain specific circumstances Haitians might face, the results suggest increasing immigration from Haiti would likely carry political risk.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,067 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Jan. 23-24, 2010. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones and cellular phones.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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